WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County judge denied Holly Crawford’s request for a new trial in the woman’s high-profile gothic kitten case, though attorneys Wednesday continued to debate if piercing kittens and docking their tails constitutes animal cruelty.

Judge Tina Polachek Gartley upheld a jury’s February verdict that found Crawford guilty of one count of animal cruelty and landed her a sentence of at least six months house arrest and shuttered the Sweet Valley woman’s animal grooming business for more than two years.

“It’s not the court’s place, prerogative or ability to take away their (the jury’s) discretion,” Gartley said before issuing her ruling.

Crawford left the courtroom almost immediately and stood outside the door as she waited for her attorney, Jeffrey Conrad. “We figured that would happen,” Crawford said. “We’re still hopeful.”

The case arose in December 2008, when Crawford was charged with three counts of animal cruelty after piercing kittens’ ears and necks and docking their tails. She planned to sell them on eBay as “gothic kittens.”

Echoing a disagreement raised during Crawford’s three-day trial, Conrad said Crawford willfully pierced the kittens and docked their tails, but she did not act maliciously – required to represent animal cruelty.

Prosecutor David Pedri contended Crawford inflicted pain upon the kittens, all to turn a profit.
“They cried. They were infected,” Pedri said. “And Ms. Crawford continued to harass.”

Crawford will appeal the verdict to the state Superior Court, said Conrad, who believes her trial attorneys, John Pike and Robert Buttner, should have let her take the witness stand.

Crawford’s appeal focuses more on clearing her name, rather than eliminating her sentence, Conrad said.
“She doesn’t want to fall back into the world believing she’s a criminal,” he said. “Because she’s not.”